What are the Different Asbestosis Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by frequent or serious exposure to asbestos. The syndrome tends to develop over time, with symptoms often occurring 20 or 30 years after initial exposure. People who work in industries that handle asbestos may be at a higher risk of developing asbestosis. Understanding common asbestosis symptoms will allow prompt medical treatment if the condition is confirmed.

The lungs are a major organ and control the intake of oxygen to the body. They are equipped with an expansive defense system to prevent harmful fibers and other foreign substances from entering the lung cavity. Unfortunately, asbestos fibers are notoriously tough, and the natural immune system of the lungs is often helpless against repeated or continual exposure to these invasive fibers. Asbestosis is the result of the hardening of lung tissue that occurs when asbestos fibers build up in the lungs.

Asbestosis symptoms tend to occur gradually, many years after exposure. Most symptoms are related to breathing problems, since the condition primarily infects the lungs. Shortness of breath, a persistent cough, chest pains, and a high occurrence of upper respiratory infections can all be asbestosis symptoms. Patients with the condition may also be unable to perform heavy physical activity due to an inability to take in enough oxygen. Some patients also develop severe asthma symptoms.


In some cases, asbestosis is related to deformities of the hands and fingers. Patients in the grip of the disease can develop clubbed fingers. Skin on the fingers may become thick, while nails may grow brittle or even fall out. Color change in the fingernails has also been shown to occur in some cases.

The initial asbestosis symptoms are often a source of discomfort but not life-threatening by themselves. Unfortunately, as the condition progresses, several related complications may be likely to arise. Lung cancer, heart problems, and high blood pressure often develop in patients suffering the latter stages of the disease.

There is no cure for the illness. Asbestosis symptoms can be treated with pain medication, but cannot be cured. Associated conditions may be successfully treated, but often develop very late in the progression of the disease. Asbestos use is now at least partially outlawed in many areas, while others insist on heavy safety precautions to prevent potential exposure. By following safety and protection guidelines exactly, exposure is likely to be minimal, even in industries where the fibers are part of the daily job.



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